Cast Ashore — a novelette in 15 chapters

Cast Ashore: Chapter 11

The Visitor

Steve Fendt
5 min readNov 4, 2023

--

A coil of thick hemp rope
‘Old Rope’ — author image

‘Hello, mate. Can I help you?’

The visitor has a round, ruddy face, but doesn’t look at all jolly. I’d put him at about forty years of age. He’s clean shaven with a powerful jaw and thick neck. He has a boxer’s nose, a broken nub of a thing with a thick saddle, and mashed ears to match.

He explains that he lost some gear overboard from his boat, fishing off the point, last Sunday night. ‘Engine trouble. When I got back to Apollo Bay, I was missing a few things. Must have fallen overboard — around here.’

‘Well, that’s a bugger. What did you lose?’

‘Oh … bait esky … tackle box … fender …’

‘A week ago?’

‘That’s right.’

‘Yeah, well, haven’t seen anything like that,’ I lie. ‘Not this last week. Just the usual rubbish.’ I wave at my treasure trove, scattered in heaps across the yard.

It occurs to me in a searing flash that the blue, rounded end of the fender is visible from where we stand, if he looks in the right direction.

‘Just thought I’d ask.’

Keep him talking, Les, old son, distract him from looking too closely.

‘Last Sunday night, eh?’ I shift around, so that he has to look away from the oil drum and the barely concealed fender to face me.

‘Yeah.’

I puff out my cheeks, shake my head. ‘Before that big storm we had … Good luck with that, mate. With the currents around here, your stuff could be anywhere between Torquay and Cape Otway by now. Might even wash up on King Island …’ I hear my voice blathering, obnoxiously chipper.

He looks at me with those dead eyes. ‘Yeah, you’re probably right. Mate.’

I get the strangest feeling that we’re in a bad amateur play. That he and I both know that we’re acting, just reading our lines from a script.

‘What’s the name of your boat then, mate?’

Fucking hell, Les, shut up.

‘… Stingray.’ Just a slight hesitation. Stingray my arse, you lying bastard.

--

--

Steve Fendt

https://stevefendt.substack.com Short stories, serial fiction, memoirs of a possibly quasi-true nature. Stories of the Australian beach and bush.